Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has rebutted the Opposition’s allegations about the government’s land policies, maintaining that the Land Reforms Amendment Act, 2005, enabling the diversion of five per cent of plantation land for other purposes, enjoyed political consensus.

Addressing the media after an all-party meeting convened on Monday to discuss the arrangements for the Emerging Kerala 2012 meet in Kochi, he said the Bill was adopted by the Assembly in 2005 after detailed discussions. “The succeeding LDF government could have withdrawn the Act if it was opposed to it,” he said when reporters drew his attention to the allegation raised by Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan that the UDF government was using the provisions of the Act to clear the ground for the land mafia to step in.

He refuted Mr. Achuthanandan’s contention that the Assembly had adopted a resolution urging the President not to grant assent for the Bill. Mr. Chandy said there was no question of allowing plantation land to be sold in the name of utilising it for other purposes.

The Chief Minister said the Land Reforms Amendment Bill was subjected to detailed discussions within the UDF.

Mr. Chandy said the government would open the mineral sand sector to public-private partnership (PPP) only in the processing segment. Mineral sand mining would be retained in the public sector. Public sector units such as Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited and Travancore Titanium Products would be protected. The PPP model of investment was being considered only for value addition.

The Chief Minister said representatives from 21 countries including Arab nations, China, and the U.S, were expected to participate in the Emerging Kerala summit to be held in Kochi from September 12 to 14. “As many as 1,600 delegates have registered for the event.”

Mr. Chandy said investment and revenue were crucial for Kerala to maintain growth and explore new avenues for progress.

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